Spi­eth takes wing with a clos­ing ea­gle

An 8-un­der-par 65 gives him a five-shot lead go­ing into the fi­nal round of the Hyundai tour­na­ment.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

ka­palua, hawaii» Sharp as ever to start the new year, Jor­dan Spi­eth capped off an­other strong per­for­mance with a 10-foot ea­gle Satur­day for an 8-un­der-par 65, giv­ing him a five-shot lead over Brooks Koepka go­ing into the fi­nal round of the Hyundai Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons.

Only one other player, de­fend­ing cham­pion Pa­trick Reed, was within eight shots of Spi­eth.

A hardy Kona wind didn’t slow any­one down who was play­ing well. Spi­eth started the day with a four-shot lead and ran off four straight birdies.

Koepka, in only his se­cond tour­na­ment in nearly three months and his first since switch­ing to Nike, had six straight birdies on the front nine. That streak ended when he made par on the down­wind, par-5 ninth hole. And with a par on the clos­ing hole, he still had a ca­reer-best 63.

At one point, Koepka pulled within one shot of the lead.

Spi­eth talked Fri­day about learn­ing to be pa­tient be­cause he would have more holes to play from the fi­nal group. Along with tak­ing care of the holes where birdies are likely, he picked up a bonus with a 50-foot birdie putt up the slope and with the grain on the 12th hole. And then, his short game took over. From just short of the 14th green, he chipped into the grain to 2 feet for birdie. His se­cond shot into the par-5 15th went just long, leav­ing him in a tough spot with a back pin. It looked as if the best play was a chip that bounced onto the green and rode the grain and slope. In­stead, Spi­eth opened a lob wedge and threw it up in the air with a flop shot that set­tled 3 feet away.

He saved par on the 16th with an­other tough chip and closed out his round with a se­cond shot that had the gallery think­ing it might go in.

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